Physical Depression and Me

Dear Reader,

I haven’t seen many people discuss physical depression, in fact, I don’t really know much about it. I say I don’t know much about it because I don’t really understand how it works. I have experienced it, but I can’t explain it, but on my worst days my depression is not just crippling mentally but also physically.

Today is one of those days where I found it incredibly difficult to get out of bed, not because I wasn’t particularly happy, but because I have this terrible pain in my shoulders which feels like they have been dislocated, and forced back into place. It’s frustrating because I haven’t done anything that should cause this much pain and sometimes I wake up and literally feel like screaming because it hurts that much. I had been told it was my posture, so I corrected my posture and I still get the pain. I was told it was the way I slept so I changed sleeping positions and it still happens. I’ve been given countless reasons and everything I have tried has not stopped the pain and so the only thing left to say about the pain is that it is more than likely in my head.

I have been getting a pain in the left side of my abdomen for a few years now. This too has no reason for being, it just happens. I have this pain almost constantly. It feels like I’m being stabbed and then punched over and over. I’ve learnt to live with this pain because it’s been happening for so long, I feel there is no point complaining about a pain I deal with everyday. My shoulders on the other hand, are far more annoying. This pain is far more intense and concentrated and feels like I’m being smacked with a bag of hammers. This is not an exaggeration, I have a fairly high pain threshold, I once broke two of my fingers and didn’t realise until the next day when they went purple and swelled up to the size of a balloon. I was forced to visit the school nurse and even then I was adamant that I didn’t want to cause a fuss. I once stabbed a craft knife almost straight through my thumb and spent 10 minutes trying to stop the bleeding myself before I decided I should probably get some help. I still have a scar from that. Finally, I have always had a problem with my feet, they are incredibly claustrophobic. One day when I was at school (I was probably around 7) I rubbed my toe on the end of my shoe so much (my feet get very itchy) that when I finally took my shoes off I had a blister the size of a bouncing ball on the end of my toe. This blister had to be drained by a nurse because it was so big, The nurse was shocked that I had been able to walk from my house to the doctor’s surgery. I don’t exaggerate pain, if anything I downplay it. And that is because I have always felt that pain is personal but also I don’t want to be seen negatively as the type of person who always has a problem to complain about (Ironic really considering my life) I am in pain almost everyday and it would be fruitless for me to talk about it regularly.

Some people don’t believe that depression can cause physical pain, I disagree, I don’t think my brain could cause this level of pain if it didn’t hate me as much as it does. I also know that if there actually was  something seriously wrong with me by now I probably would have found out or died from it. And so the debilitating, monotonous, frustrating, torturous pain that occurs from depression for me is both mental and physical and incredibly unpleasant.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room

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76 thoughts on “Physical Depression and Me

  1. Thank you, you allow people to see they’re not alone it is very hard to admit any type of weakness which is in itself strength… Earl Nightingale (from the 40s and 50s) has talks about studies done in the early 1900s on depression and the elements it causes. Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins and zig Ziegler and Jim Roan all speak of the laws of nature to which all humans must abide. Our mental well-being is the most important piece for physical well being. I find the speaker named Abraham Hicks has an interesting take on thought might be worth a listen on YouTube. Thanks again for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I firmly believe that depression can cause negative physical symptoms, not just pain either. exhaustion, increased or decreased heart rate, poor blood pressure, etc. chronic depression is caused by bad wiring in your brain. it only makes sense that there is the possibility that the faulty wiring effects other parts of your body too, not just your mind.

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  3. I believe our bodies are one giant computer. When anything happens anywhere it affects the entire body. I see a chiropractor who does muscle testing when he works on me. One day he said, are you experiencing any allergy symptoms? I was and he could tell by the tension in my back. After the adjustment both my back and allergies got better. Also I could not figure out why my left hip kept riding higher than my right causing lower back pain. Figured out I had been sitting on my left leg in my easy chair for years. I stopped and now my hip stays in place. I know these examples sound strange but if standing on my head gargling peanut butter made me feel better I would do it.

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  4. Depression can cause so much havoc with your body. When you try and explain it most people just assume you are lazy or experiencing psychosomatic complaints. The pain is real. I found that one days like these, forcing myself to get out of bed and doing any form of physical movement really helped. Also, for long term relief, I found Progressive Muscle Relaxation helpful.

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  5. I am sure a lot of people understand this more than you think/know. I have a lot of pain in my body and can’t sleep so get up and roam. I look fine (for my age) and others just don’t realize what pain I have.
    The good part is ( laughing ) is that I know what I have and there isn’t any cure or much help for it. I know I am not imagining it. But I can’t disagree that depression might cause pain.
    Just talk about it here…..You are listened to. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My depression was diagnosed from physical symtoms. Very common apparently for depressed people to present to their doc with physical rather than mental symptoms. So easy to convince yourself that you have some terrible life threatening illness!

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  7. It is definitely physical as well as mental. Either way, they are both crippling. I suffer unbearable migraine headaches from depression and just thinking non stop. My bones ache, I get terrible muscle spasms and my body gets extremely tense, just to name a few. I to have a high tolerance for pain and have suffered many years and still do because I don’t want to be dependent on drugs. It’s really tough on me and just drains every ounce of energy I posess. But I can’t let anybody see me as anything other than, “Fine”. Afterall, with people like me, everything is always fine.

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    • I too resist taking drugs. Have you tried tapes or CD on relaxation? Check out EFT on line. It stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. It is also called Tapping. You tap in sequence on meridians in the upper body. Gary Craig wrote a book called EFT Manual. I got mine from Amazon. On line you can see videos on it as well. I new an ER doctor who used it for migraine. Some use it with Hospice patients for pain as well. I regularly get massages to help me with tension.

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      • I highly recommend massage if you can afford it. I splurged yesterday and had a 2 hour one. It was advertised as a “stress buster” and it really did the trick. They used hot stones and also scrubbed my body with sea salt. I just melted and am feeling very relaxed today as well. I find human touch healing. Since my husband died years ago I have tried to get one often. Hop you are better soon. Talking about it to let off steam is a healthy move in my opinion.

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      • Thank you and I am so sorry for your loss. I am no stranger to loss, I’ve had many and I mean many losses. Which is also a contributing factor to my depression, insomnia and anxiety. Unfortunately, I am the opposite when it comes to massages. I feel really uncomfortable having someone else touch me and rub me. I’m just weird.

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      • I don’t consider you weird at all. I don’t think any of us should feel strange for how we relate to the world. We are just who we are. I think accepting our self is a step to getting better. Maybe a soak in a hot tub would do the trick. I took my husband to a floating tube years ago where he had to float in salt water in the dark with music if he liked. The salt kept him suspended so he touch nothing but the water. He was so nervous about being in there alone he asked me to sit right outside of the tank. He asked to get out before the hour was over. He hated the nothingness that the float offered. If he could have had a light and a book to read he could have enjoyed it. That was just who he was, not strange just himself. He loved me dragging him into strange experiences. That was the only one he did not like.

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      • I guess I’m just having a difficult time accepting who I am now because I don’t really know who that is anymore. I’m not a bath person due to the fact that I am super extremely claustrophobic and I cannot be enclosed or surrounded by anyone or anything. Being submerged in water makes me feel like I’m suffocating because I am literally surrounded by water. Even though it’s not deep waters and my head is above it, I still freak out. I’m all messed up. 😞 I appreciate your suggestions though, I really do. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

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  8. I find I get an almost crippling tiredness when I’m depressed. Other than yesterday when I had to work (if I take any more time off I could lose my job and then I’d be even more screwed) I’ve spend every day this week sleeping until midday then spending the afternoon on the sofa before going back to bed at about 8!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You may want to be checked for Fibromyalgia – once thought to be ‘all in the head’, many doctors now know it is caused by disruptions in brain function and chemistry. It’s worth getting assessed. I suffer with MS and depression (caused by the disease, I feel) and dealt with much pain before my diagnosis, mental and physical. It helped me manage to find out what other causes could be for the pain. I find regular exercise (some days I really don’t feel like it, but I’m better after) makes a huge difference – from stretching to aerobic stuff. Physiotherapy is also a great great help.

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  10. Dear friend, have you heard of the spiritual practice of reading the language of pain? It can surface many answers that many otherwise remain hidden. The mystic Almine has written about it extensively in her incredible book “A Life of Miracles”.

    Also, have you considered the possibly of chemical imbalances in the body? What has assisted me greatly here has been alkalizing my diet.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I guess we all experience depression, some more intensely than others. It’s crippling and degrading at times. It’s so hard to put into words. Especially when people ask you WHY. You are very courageous.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I too have days when my depression is not only mental, but physical. Getting out of bed or ‘zombie’ walking around the house where my movements are so slow, I can barely lift a fork to eat. I have no facial expressions, by face is just ‘blank’. There’s not much I can do on these days but sleep and fight to take my meds.

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  13. Depression definitely brings physical symptoms like pain. Sometimes that pain can be directly related to the illness itself. Or it can be indirectly related. An example of the latter is when I was having stomach cramping, at times debilitating. My doctor said I needed more exercise and to eat more fruits and veggies. Well, with my depression comes apathy and fatigue so I’m not going to exercise and I’m going to eat whatever is easiest to get my hands on. I know I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders which eventual leaves me sore. Sounds like your pain is worse than what I’ve experienced. I saw someone suggest massage. It would definitely help. If you’re seeking something more frugal, a warm bath with lavender epsom salt would help. The espsom salts will help soothe achy muscles and the lavender will help you to relax a bit. Right before bed would be an optimal time. Hope you get some relief soon. Pain can definitely work against you in your strive toward wellness.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you for talking about this subject. It’s sad, but even today depression is by many not considered an “actual” affliction. As a fellow sufferer, I am constantly being told things like “just get over it”, “you must try more” or “you are just imagining it”. So it’s great that you share your experience 🙂

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  15. Hi Elephant in the Room,

    Thanks for liking my blog on brokenness. I suffer from depression, and I agree with you that not only does it affect you mentally but physically as well. I recommend that you try going to the Chiropractor. It helped me a lot when I was really going through it. Massages as I saw someone else comment will help you too. I hope that some of your pain subside. I really enjoyed reading your post. It’s something that I can relate to because depression is something I’ve been dealing with since 2005.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think one thing that causes tension and stress is not dealing with it as it occurs or letting things build up. One technique I heard about years ago is to take a shower as hot as you can stand and picture all of the “junk” that you are holding on to is stuck to your body like butter. Visualize it all melting away and going down the drain. Then turn the temp of water down and picture positive energy going into your body. I also find writing how I am feeling and letting it all hang out on paper, hand written, not typed helps me keep current. I wish I had learned about journaling years ago. Will be sending you my thoughts and prayers.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I agree that depression can cause physical pain too, I often get awful aches which feel like they are in my lungs. My lungs are in great shape for my age as I have had health MOT couple of years ago which said my lungs were eight years younger than me. I think we all have a ‘physical’ outlet in our body which tries in some way to release the darkness and tension.

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    • I remember years ago I was in a bridge group at the local senior center. I was trying to hit the delete button when I saw sugar because I felt it interfered with me managing my Bipolar disorder. The center received lots of day old goodies from stores and bakeries. The leader of our group filled a large table with some of these items each time we played. I tried like the devil to stay away from that table but seldom was successful..I would get mad at myself and beat myself up. I started getting headaches and tension in my shoulders on the days I attended the Bridge games. I could not figure out why. Finally i decided not to play Bridge there anymore. I was so surprised that my discomfort stopped on a dime. I had not connected the pain with the behavior and the tension I felt trying to avoid sugar. I think pain gets out attention for a reason. Finding a solution is sometimes the great mystery. Many things, situations, or even people can be toxic in our lives. Hugs and faith that you will figure it out.

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  17. So it’s not only me. I have aching shoulders, back, joints, and feet. It sucks when I wake up. I wake up tired no matter what I do. I just don’t have the energy to get out of bed. When I have to work (I freelance), I’ve to load up on energy drinks. Sucks! But, yeah, depression does cause a lot of physical pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s interesting to note emotional pain and physical pain revel along the parts of the brain. I understand this perfectly at this point in life as I am losing most motor functions in my hands and arms. And all I know how to do is write.

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  19. Thank you for addressing this issue. I also have chronic pain in the shoulders, also in my neck. I’m certain that I was born with a malformed spine. I’m also certain that depression has made the pain worse, because when you are depressed you don’t want to look up. The head hangs, the spine bends. Also, thanks for liking my post. Feel free to stop by my blog any time.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ahahah. While I was reading this I was digging my fingers into this particular knot I always get next to my left shoulder blade. I actually saw my chiropractor today and this pain is still there. It’s always lurking.

    As for your abdomen pain, I get that too BUT it massively, massively improved when I cut out gluten. If you haven’t experimented with that I highly recommend trying it for a while. Going gluten-(and dairy-)free made my depression and all its symptoms far easier to manage.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Depression and physical pain can and often do coexist. My opinion is that fibromyalgia is one expression of this. I’ve had one documented major depressive episode (and was told I probably had two more) and have been diagnosed as dysthymic, or chronically mildly to moderately depressed. I’ve also had fibromyalgia for 30 years, give or take, shortly before I was diagnosed with depression. I believe in the connection.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Fibromyalgia is not recognized by all medical professionals so you might be pretty smart in not taking it to your doc. OTOH, some of the rare but sometimes useful treatments for fibro (which has few effective treatments) seems to be those meds related to depression in one way or another, like some SSRI’s and Lyrica. None worked for me, gave me nothing but side effects, but YMMV. Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh gosh, I understand completely. My anxiety gives me terrible shoulder/neck pains; I have it almost constantly, but sometimes it’s so painful I can’t concentrate on anything. I have to put on hold anything I’m doing or was going to do for the next few hours (or the rest of the day) so I can take some painkillers and lie down. It’s so frustrating!

    Have you ever heard the term ‘psychosomatic’? It’s when things from your mind start affecting your body. I truly believe this is the case with me and it must be the case with you too. The only thing I can recommend is a good therapist and maybe some antidepressants (and painkillers and those pads you use for muscular pain, you know? They’re divine!) All these things make my life a lot less miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I absolutely agree with you. My husband has depression and one of his symptoms is extreme extreme self-loathing and he has pain, intense physical pain on a daily basis. Like you he has a high pain threshold. He has suffered this pain as long as he can remember. I also have Depression and pain particularly in the shoulders as you have mentioned here (pinched nerves, heat insensitivity, loss of feeling in the hands, limited mobility, at times the pain in my shoulders is excruciating), I also get intense muscle spasms. I once had such bad knee pain (it locked) that I actually threw up and passed out. I have had some accidents but I have never had pain as bad as what I had in my knee and it was probably psychological pain. I am just starting treatment for PTSD apparently that comes with a lot of physical pain, the body remembers the trauma.

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  24. I agree with you in that depression can cause physical pain. I have experienced it myself and it is no fun. I am thinking that depression can show itself in many ways such as in eating disorders (eating too much or an intense sugar craving; isolation and not wanting or just can’t get out of bed, etc. How great you have the courage to write about what you are feeling and sharing. It is nice to know that we who suffer depression are not alot with the odd quirks regarding our mind and how our body reacts to our thoughts and feelings.

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  25. Reblogged this on Crepuscule and commented:
    Sometimes I like to pretend I’m one of those little people inside the robot from the movie Dave. I’m not the person in pain, that pain belongs to the capsule that transports me around.

    The elephant in the room gets it.

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  26. ‘Frantically scrolls to find the comment box!’

    It’s almost like you wrote this blog for me, I agreed with it in its entirety, so I hope you don’t mind; but I’ve reblogged it on Crepuscule.

    I have what many have tried to term as a ‘frozen shoulder’ for about 7 years. It’s not frozen, quite warm I’m fact, but it’s a pain in the backside; for no reason.

    Also, some days I can’t physically get out of bed and I have to get the children to roll me out, very amusing to behold but not very fun for me.

    In closing just last night, I was sitting there writing my new blog post and for no apparent reason I had a searing, shooting BOLT of pain in my stomach, so painful I almost blacked out. There’s no medical explanation, it’s all in the mind. Don’t even get me started on anxiety induced pain.

    My brain hates me too friend, you are most certainly not, alone.

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  27. Reblogged this on alysencameron and commented:
    Depression has emotional, mental and physical manifestations, because the emotional and mental processes are housed in the physical. This is one of the most effective treatments that hails from history so far back we have forgotten its origins. Look for a massage therapist in your area who does this treatment – Myofascial Massage Therapy – and be wowed by the relief of getting back on track with the whole you.

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  28. Very interesting blog!! I have heard about emotional issues (and depression certainly counts!) manifesting physically. I have also been told that the key to reducing the severity or even the symptoms if possible is to work on the issue. Which sounds really easy… if you know what the emotional trigger or original issue is, which is not quite so easy when depression takes everything under that lovely big black umbrella.

    Hugs.

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  29. I totally understand and relate to this! I’ve been having crippling backpain since June this year, and although we finally discovered the reason behind it (a mostly physical one), my doctor told me at the beginning it was probably just my depression. I thought I was going crazy! I couldn’t imagine a mental illness having a physical effect, but it does. I’m so glad that I’m not alone in feeling this, and that you aren’t either!
    Depression is crippling, in as many or as little ways as possible. And I’m hoping that this brings more awareness to the fact that it’s not only affecting the ‘mental health’ of those poor souls it infects.

    Ps thanks for the like 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I think this is called “ME” in the UK, which is just another blanket term like “fibromyalgia” when you have genuine symptoms but the doctors just can’t figure out what is wrong with you.

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  31. Dear elephant. I know you have probably had more than your fair share of advise so rather than just giving you blind nonsense… Will you please visit the site vitamindcouncil.org. Then click on health conditions and check what they have to say about vitamin D depression and physical pain. You can have your vitamin D levels checked at your local doctor. Of course if you have already done so then I apologize for wasting your time. Sincerely.

    Like

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